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91. How Do I Recover My Desktop Icons And Taskbar, They Seem To Have Disappeared

There is nothing more disconcerting than booting up your PC only to find that you have a completely blank desktop; the icons, taskbar and start button having simply disappeared.

Unfortunately there is no easy fix for this problem. But, basically, there are around four ways of attempting to salvage the situation.

The Easy Work Around

1/ Boot to your desktop.

2/ Press CTRL+ALT+DEL to open Task Manager.

3/ In Task manager click the New Task button on the General tab.

4/ In the New Task dialogue box type: 'explorer.exe' (without the quotes) and press OK.

5/ The Windows desktop should now appear.

System Restore Option

If you manage to get to a working desktop using the Easy Work Around method, it may be worth attempting a System Restore. To be on the safe side you may want to restore your system back to the earliest available restore point. You will, however, have to reinstall any software or updates that you installed after the selected restore point.

New User Account

The next option, assuming you can get to a working desktop using the Easy Work Around method, is to create a new user for your pc in the hope that the New user Account will produce the desired effect, i.e., bring up the desktop.

1/ Go to Control Panel.

2/ Click User Accounts icon.

3/ In the User profile window select Create New Account.

4/ Follow the New User Wizard to set up the new account.

5/ Reboot your PC and log on as the new user.


The final option is to do a repair of the Windows XP Operating system. For this you will need the Retail Version of the Windows XP CD. Alternatively you would have needed to install the Recovery Console as a boot menu item (See 16. How Do I Install Recovery Console). If you do not have a retail version of XP or you have not previously installed Recovery Console as a boot up menu item you will not be able to initiate a repair.

However, your PC should have come with some way of 'restoring' the system back to factory settings. This will usually come in the form of a set of Restore disks or the operating system will be concealed on a hidden partition on your hard drive. I suggest you check your PC user manual for details of using the Recovery disk/partition. You should be aware that a Repair should not necessarily delete any files or applications you installed after you purchased your pc. the whole object of a repair is to reinstall operating system files. However, it is wise to backup any important data just in case.

Using Recovery disks or files from Hidden partitions are, however, the exception to the rule. If you use the recovery disk or recovery Partition option your hard drive will have all of its data erased, so you will loose everything. Again backing up any data you need to keep is the best policy. After using the Recovery disk/Partition option you will also need to reinstall any software or updates you installed after your PC was purchased.

To Repair you operating system proceed as follows:

1/ Insert the Windows XP cd into your CD-ROM and Reboot your machine (You will need to make sure that your CD-ROM is set to be the first boot option in your PCs BIOS).

2/ At the Welcome To Set Up screen press Enter to start the Windows set Up.

3/ Next accept the License Agreement.

4/ Set Up will now search your PC for any copies of Windows.

5/ When set up finds the copy of Windows XP already installed on your PC, select it from the list and then press 'R' to start the Repair process.